Monday, August 28, 2017

"Iniquity is catching": Frank R. Stockton's The Stories of the Three Burglars (1889).

Frank R. Stockton
Writer Frank R. Stockton (1834–1902) is probably best known for "The Lady, or the Tiger?" (1882). In his The Stories of the Three Burglars (1889) that can be read online at University of Florida's Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature, a lawyer's trap ensnares burglars who tell tales about their lives of crime in the hope that they will be released before the police arrive. One has a proposition for the homeowner:
I wish you to understand the faults of your fastenings, and any information I can give you which will better enable you to protect your house, I shall be glad to give. . . . I have made window fastenings an especial study, and, if you employ me for the purpose, I'll guarantee that I will put your house into a condition which will be absolutely burglar proof. (59–60)
Another seems to be an earlier incarnation of George Plimpton:
"I am frequently called upon to write accounts of burglars and burglaries, and in order thoroughly to understand these people and their methods of action, I determined, as soon as the opportunity should offer itself, to accompany a burglarious expedition. . . ."
Said Aunt Martha,  . . . "I do not think that there is the slightest necessity for people to  know anything about burglars. If people keep talking and reading about diseases they will get them, and if they keep talking and reading about crimes they will find that iniquity is catching, the same as some other things." (108–09)



There is an interesting twist regarding the fates of the three burglars.

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